Have you ever been in that moment when you are planned and prepared, and suddenly you’ve got to shift gears because whatever you were thinking wasn’t the direction that you needed to go in?
Several years ago, I was asked to present at a school in Baltimore. I was asked to share interesting things about popular culture with lots of references to keep the kids engaged. I was excited and got online to research on musicians, sports, books; things I thought the urban youth would be interesting in learning about.
It was the first time I had been to that school and as I got closer and closer to my destination, I got farther and farther out in the country and I realized I wasn’t going to a Baltimore City school, I was going to a Baltimore County school. The demographic of student is significantly different in this rural school district versus the city school I was expecting.
As I pulled up to this school, I saw tractors lined up in the front and sign that said, “Drive your tractor to school day.” The presentation, as great as I prepared it, was not going to fly at this school.
Admit When You Have to Shift Gears
One of the things I had to do with myself, is admit this is not going to work. I had to shelf that awesome presentation for another time.
Access How You Should Do It Differently
The second thing I had to do in that moment, was to access the audience – look at my audience and talk to them first before delivering that presentation. I had to figure out what they cared about… What was interesting to them… What types of popular culture I should be referencing in the presentation that followed.
Wing It With Confidence
The third thing I had to do was exude confidence. Those kids did not have to know the mental gymnastics I had gone through just a few minutes before walking in the door of that school.
I want to encourage you in your mental flexibility:
- Admit when you have to shift gears
- Access how you should do it differently
- Wing it with confidence with poise and grace
And don’t forget to congratulate yourself – this isnt easy to do! How do you use mental flexiblity in the workplace? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!